Seeking to better understand Atlanta’s financial technology (FinTech) ecosystem and the resources and components that support it, André Haspels, the Netherlands’ ambassador to the United States, visited the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) at Georgia Tech for a summit with industry leaders and state and local government officials.
The February 21 FinTech gathering, led by Kristin Slink, ATDC’s FinTech entrepreneur-in-residence, was designed to showcase Atlanta’s leading role in the sector and establish connections among attendees.
“FinTech is a major focus in the Netherlands so we are promoting Atlanta as a place for any of their companies to come and establish their U.S. headquarters here or look to Atlanta for their expansion plans because we are so FinTech heavy and have a ton of resources for them,” Slink said. “This is a great opportunity for us to show what we at ATDC — and the entire FinTech network in Atlanta — can offer them.”
Indeed, the Dutch contingent, which included the Atlanta-based Consul General Ard van de Vorst, met with representatives from the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), Invest Atlanta, Invest Georgia, FinTech Atlanta, and the Atlanta Mayor’s Office.
The metro Atlanta region boasts being a FinTech epicenter, as 70 percent of all U.S. payments transactions are handled by Georgia-based payment processing firms. Metro Atlanta’s “Transaction Alley” is comprised of more than 50 FinTech companies, which generate annual revenue that exceeds $72 billion in Georgia.
ATDC’s FinTech program, launched in 2015, capitalizes on those strengths to work with entrepreneurs in the space to launch and scale successful startups in Georgia. Since launch, the ATDC FinTech program has evaluated more than 150 startups and has 35 FinTech companies in its portfolio that have garnered international attention and investments.
For example, Greenlight Financial, a 2018 ATDC FinTech graduate, raised $54 million in a 2019, Series B financing round, bringing its total capital raise to $80 million since the company’s founding in 2014.
ATDC’s FinTech portfolio includes winners of the UBS Future of FinTech Challenge and Google Demo Day. Some of its startups have been asked to present at Money 20/20 Asia, while others have been selected in some of the most coveted accelerator cohorts, including Techstars Barclay’s London and Lloyd’s of London’s Lloyd Lab.
“We have a strong ecosystem in the Netherlands when it comes to FinTech, but Atlanta does as well,” Haspels said, noting 10 Dutch FinTech startups are slated to come to Atlanta in May 2020.
“From the American side, there is an interest in bringing bigger Dutch financial institutions like Rabobank, ABN AMRO, and ING to the United States because they see a market for them as well.”
The economic ties between the two countries run deep. In terms of direct foreign investment in the Netherlands, the United States is ranked No. 1 with $883.2 billion in 2018, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Conversely, the Dutch investment in the United States was $479 billion in 2018, ranking it No. 4, BEA statistics show.
The Netherlands is Georgia’s ninth-largest export market, and country ranks No. 18 among the state’s importer nations, according GDEcD. The country is among the top 10 nations with the most facilities in Georgia.
Those ties partly explain why the Dutch opened an Atlanta consular office in 2017.
“Atlanta is a very important part of the United states with many economic possibilities,” Haspels said. “In the Southeast, we see many Dutch companies and that’s exactly the reason we opened our consular general office here and why we are committed to it. It’s a long-term investment, so we will be here to stay.”